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Dining Out With Little Kids: A Survival Guide

So you are all excited to have a meal in a restaurant with your family after a long time, but there is the lingering fear of your kids misbehaving in the restaurant. Well, dining out with kids is indeed a little tricky, especially when you are heading out with your toddlers. However, we have some suggestions that might help you make the dining experience an enjoyable one for you and your loved ones.

There are several reasons why a mom might want to take her family out for dinner, and not having to cook or clean probably tops all of them. It also feels good to socialize and see other adults, to put on the pair of pants you have been saving for the time when you finally leave your house, and to eat something just because it is yummy and not because it conforms to everyone’s food restrictions.

Practice at Home First

Bring out your kid’s favorite superhero figurines and stuffed toys, and have pretend dinner at your home before you dine out with the entire family. Teach them some basic manners like waiting for food patiently, not running around the restaurant, etc. This doesn’t prevent all misbehavior altogether, but it ensures the situation stays under control.

Choose Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Avoid going to fancy restaurants that don’t have any kid-friendly options on their menu. Always look for restaurants that provide items for your children, and it will be an added bonus if they have a few dishes that your little one loves to eat. Also, check online reviews for the waiting time for the food. If the service is slow, then it’s better to skip the restaurant and go to a place that has faster service, because we can’t expect the kids to have the same patience we tend to have with slow service.

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Go Early

Even if you eat late at home, it’s better to head out early when you are dining out with your kids. So if the restaurant opens at 6 in the evening, make sure you are one of the first few people to reach there. This will ensure your child isn’t hungry, cranky and tired by the end of the meal. Although you might not be hungry at 6, considering the drive to the restaurant, settling down with your kid and then waiting for everyone’s food to arrive, you might end up eating almost at your routine time.

Try To Sit Outside

An outdoor table is your best friend when dining out with kids. Falling food is quickly snatched by birds, screams of fussy kids blends in with the traffic, and there are many exciting sights and sounds to distract the little ones. Even if it is a hot day, it is better to sit outdoors where you don’t have to worry about your kid’s misbehavior than sit indoors, shooshing the little one throughout.

Know the Menu

Waste zero time ordering food! Glance at the kids’ menu online and ask them in the car ride itself if they want chicken tenders and/or butter pasta. And you guessed it right, always order your kid’s meal first and then place your order. The sooner you order their food, the faster they get it and stay busy for you to enjoy the rest of your evening.

Bring Along Some Entertainment

You’re just trying to fill the time between ordering and eating, so carry some entertainment that can keep them busy during the waiting period to avoid any meltdowns. While digital entertainment is tempting, the only problem with handing kids a phone or tablet is the inevitable battle of taking it away from them when it’s time to eat. Instead, opt for art, because children magically quiet down when it comes to creating a masterpiece.

Always keep some of their favorite playthings like stuffed toys, finger puppets, small puzzles and no-mess color books handy. These are bound to keep them occupied at the dinner table. You can even play games like “I Spy” or work on an activity book together to keep it exciting.

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Bring Extra Clothes

Messes are inevitable when kids are involved. Knocking over drinks and pasta sauce splatters all over their fancy clothes should be expected, so prepare yourself accordingly. Bibs and napkins tucked into their shirt collars can do so much. Thus keep a few of their clothes handy, quickly cleaning up the mess and changing them into clean fits that will have them looking dinner-ready yet again.

Tip Well

Always make sure to tip well when you are dining out with kids. The servers who professionally deal with a family with little ones deserve a good tip, so show your appreciation for their patience and tip them well after you are done with your meal.

Stay Calm

But most importantly, stay calm even if your kids throw spaghetti on the floor or the table. Do not yell at them or scold them, as it might escalate the situation. So, remain unfazed by their behavior and talk about their manner later at home.

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